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Revolt Newsletter 81

21/03/2001


1. Northern Echo 8.3.01 reports Bedford MP Patrick Hall wants powers for Ofgem to monitor the effect of high voltage powerlines on people and to set targets to reduce the effects. William Hague is to be asked to support an early day motion. Bedford's Brickhill Urban Community Council has taken up the issue and is writing to all local authorities. Richmondshire DC voted 6.3.01 to back the campaign.

2. Northern Echo 09.3.01 reports a landmark ruling on mobile phone masts. A mast proposed in Harrow was refused by the Council, and then the Planning Inspectorate refused Orange's appeal on health grounds. This is said to be the first rejection on health grounds. The evidence against mobile phone masts is no firmer than that against powerlines, although the fields are different.

3. Angela Ovenston reports a new breakthrough in superconducting by Nagamatsu et al as abstracted in Nature. Magnesium diboride is the material which is superconducting at 39 K, which is lower temperature than the ceramic superconductors at 77 K, but the material is simpler to extrude into wires and is readily available. This could give a new impetus to lower-cost highly efficient undergrounding of powerlines.

4. The Times 12.3.01 carried a 2 page feature (pages 10-11 of Times2) of Denis Henshaw's work and criticisms of the NRPB report. The headline says the powerlines cause skin cancer, lung cancer, depression and 60 suicides a year, and the focus on leukaemia conceals the real peril. He says "governments have to respond to risk assessment, not hide behind wanting strict causal proof". The article quotes Dr Michael Clark, of NRPB, as saying "Professor Henshaw is a perfectly reputable scientist who has an interesting and plausible hypothesis. But it is a long way from that to a demonstrable health effect". Interesting that Dr Clark admits it is plausible, when the NRPB report goes to some lengths to avoid accepting that word, and in its general summary (page 164) claims the absence of "a plausible explanation from experiments on animals or isolated cells".

5. Recent letters in D&S Times: 2.3.01 from Hugh Jenyns, pointing out the cursory manner of issueing road closure notices and the chaos threatened to Upsall and Kirby Knowle, alongside one from Cllr Peter Sowray defending North Yorks CC (and criticising me several times). My reply appeared 16.3.01 recognising the County's long support and present constraints, while pointing out the lack of prior information about road closures before the draconian notices.

6. Recent letters in Northern Echo: Cllr Jeremy Atkinson of Stockton BC wrote 8.3.01 with a cautiously sceptical response to the NRPB health news, and pressing for the removal of the 275kV Lackenby-Crathorne- Norton line consequent to installing the new 400kV line. My reply 17.3.01 reassured him that powerlines are not a major source of leukaemia though relatively heavy exposure is associated with a doubled risk. I also restated Revolt's position welcoming the removal of the 275kV line, not opposing the Lackenby-Picton line in principle, and concentrating opposition on the Picton-Shipton line.

7. From Microwave News Jan/Feb 2001: The US Federal Government's Inter- Agency Committee (IAC) has completed its final report to Congress on the 6-year EMF RAPID research program. The 8 page IAC report simply repeats the conclusions of the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) in its own 1999 report to Congress: "ELF EMF exposure cannot be recognised as entirely safe because of weak scientific evidence that exposure may pose a leukaemia hazard" (etc). But the report is held up at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House, where President Bush has yet to appoint a Director of OSTP. Unlike the NIEHS, the IAC does not endorse prudent avoidance.

8. From Microwave News Nov/Dec 2000: weak ELF EMFs (at 4 to 5 uT as close to powerlines) alter gene expression as implicated in tumour promotion, according to new research of Dr James Trosko [Env Health Perspectives 108, 967-972, Oct 2000]. This paper was not covered in NRPB's recent major review of the subject.

9. From the Independent 17.3.01: "Vatican Radio is facing power cuts over cancer claims". Massive radio antennae thought to be causingleukaemia in children and tumours in adults north of Rome ... trials of directors on charges of em pollution. (from Angela Ovenston)

10. From Electronics, March 2001: useful summary article by Martin Pipes describes high temperature superconducting (HTS) technology for electricity distribution and transmission, in its third phase since 1998 and with the new alternative YBCO material since 1999. The author seems unaware of EU costings where huge efficiency savings are built in as capitalised value, showing HTS is much more economical than conventional undergrounding, or of remote drilling technology for installation in long secure underground pipes without the problems of trenching and breaking ground surface. He depends on NGC for several pictures, and perhaps for advice!

Mike O'Carroll

 

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